While Brock Lesnar is an extreme part-time wrestler who only works a handful of key dates each year, he easily became the highest-paid wrestler in all of WWE in 2016. This news comes via Forbes, who has once again released their annual ranking of the best-paid talent in the company.
This latest update marks a fairly signification change in the promotion. For years, John Cena had been making the most amount of money out of any wrestler, but he was easily passed over by Lesnar in 2016. In fact, Lesnar is estimated to have taken in four million dollars more than Cena. It seems The Beast’s lucrative contract with Vince McMahon really kicked in with monetary bonuses this past year.
While the figures aren’t exact (WWE doesn’t release official numbers of what their talent makes to the public), there is a set of criteria in place that Forbes uses to compose their list.
“WWE’s public filings, booking contracts and pay documents as well as interviews with industry insiders.”
In 2015, Forbes had Cena listed as the top money-maker in the promotion. He was estimated to have earned $9.5 million over the year. Lesnar landed in second place with $6.0 million. Triple H came in third with $2.8 million. The rest of the list was filled with names you would have expected to earn big paydays: Randy Orton ($2.7 million), Seth Rollins ($2.4 million), Roman Reigns ($2.1 million), The Undertaker ($2.0 million), The Big Show ($1.5 million), Kane ($1.3 million) and then Dean Ambrose rounded out the list at the No. 10 spot ($1.1 million).
The 2016 edition has quite a few of the same players involved, but with the No. 10 spot now making $800,000 more than the same spot made last year.
10. Randy Orton – $1.9 million.
9. Seth Rollins – $2.0 million.
8. The Undertaker – $2.0 million.
7. Shane McMahon – $2.2 million.
6. A.J. Styles – $2.4 million.
5. Dean Ambrose – $2.7 million.
4. Roman Reigns – $3.5 million.
3. Triple H – $3.8 million.
2. John Cena – $8 million.
1. Brock Lesnar – $12 million.
Basically, Kane and Big Show found themselves out of the top 10 while A.J. Styles and the son of the promoter found themselves on the list. Perhaps troubling for the company (and frustrating for the talent) is that four of the wrestlers who made the most money were extreme part-time wrestlers in 2016 (Lesnar, McMahon, Undertaker and Triple H), and it also seems that Cena’s days of year-round, full-time work seem to be over.
Even with some aging stars raking in a lot of cash and taking most of the top spots, it’s hard to imagine this list drastically changing within the next year. Besides Undertaker likely wrestling his last match (though he is sure to have received a huge WrestleMania payday), the other big players will probably do nicely for themselves once again.
What’s also interesting is how Brock Lesnar’s take home pay effectively doubled from 2015 to 2016. WWE made him a big money offer to stick around in 2015, and not jump to back to UFC and continue being a top star in the world of MMA. It seems he made a solid career decision.
Now keep in mind, while this may sound like a ton of money (and it is for the vast majority of people on the planet), it’s actually not that much in the world of professional sports or television shows. In the NFL, the highest paid player (Drew Brees) made over $31 million in 2016. In the MLB, the average player now makes $4.7 million. On The Big Bang Theory, the top five featured actors on the show are each raking in $1 million per episode, which would put them on this list after two weeks of work.
Still, it looks like when you get to the major leagues of professional wrestling, you can still potentially make a pretty nice living for yourself. Even though the ratings for WWE’s flagship shows are only a fraction of what they were during The Attitude Era, it’s a nice sign for the talent that it’s at least possible to make a couple million dollars (or more) with the right push and promotion behind them.
[Featured Image by WWE]